Category Archives: Sex Education

10 Ways to Empower Our Kids Against Predators

Daniel Morcombe murderer Brett Cowan

The past week, for us Australians, has been traumatic. We’ve been glued to our TVs as we’ve watched the final days of the Brett Peter Cowan trial. We’ve cried for the Morcombe family as they’ve had to face the monster who murdered their young son, Daniel, in court day after day.
This monster, Brett Cowan, showed not a shred of remorse for ripping away the life of thirteen year old Daniel Morcombe to satisfy his own sick pleasures. I won’t go into my anger at the justice system that released Brett Cowen twice after brutally raping two other little boys. One of those boys, Timothy Nicholls – only seven years old when he was abducted and raped repeatedly and so brutally that he almost died, says Brett Cowan took his life that day. For that crime, Brett Peter Cowan was sentenced to a hideously inadequate seven years in jail and was set free. I have chosen not to rail against this inept system here, however, because that’s a post that won’t achieve anything more than fuelling more anger and pain. What I will do is, in the small way I can, attempt to help other parents to arm their children against the sick predators, like Brett Peter Cowan, in our world. That way, something positive might come of the horror that Timothy Nicholls, Daniel Morcombe and countless other children have endured at the hands of these sick pedophiles. After much research, I’d like to share with you these 10 ways to empower our children:

1. Don’t force your child to hug sweet Aunt Bertha.

Why? we need to teach our children to trust their instincts – to listen to that inner voice that tells them that it doesn’t feel nice to be touched sometimes. Let them know that you back them up, even if it hurts the other person’s feelings. Chances are, Great Aunt Bertha isn’t a pedophile – but the lesson here is that they are allowed to choose who touches them and how they are touched. They need to know that they, and only they, are the boss of their bodies. They need to know, one hundred percent, that they have their parents’ backing to say “no”.

2. Teach your children to say NO.

Of course, our kids should have a healthy respect for authority, but they should also understand that that respect should never be at the expense of their own self-respect. Teach your kids to feel comfortable saying “no” if an authority figure asks them to do something that they are uncomfortable doing. Allow them the experience of listening to their instincts, acting on them and being supported. If they know they can say “no” and that their parents will support them and listen to them, they are less likely to be targeted. Pedophiles target children who fear authority and lack confidence to speak out.

Read the rest of this entry

The Masturbation Conversation

Masturbation.

This word strikes fear in the heart of most parents. It’s the kryptonite of the parenting fraternity. When most parents look at their children, the last thing they want to think about is that they – gulp – masturbate.

Because there seem to be such taboos connected with this topic, many parents are unaware that it is , in fact, totally normal for children to be touching themselves regularly at the age of three and then again, from twelve well into adulthood.

It’s bizarre, really, this fear of the masturbation conversation. I’ve seen friends freely post on Facebook about how little Sammy ate a cockroach today! Marcus fingerprinted with his own poo! Jenny had an epic diaper explosion (with attached photographs for evidence)! But when they discovered little Toby masturbating: silence. This little milestone is shoved under the rug faster than the most shameful family skeleton.

I was fortunate to have been raised by two incredibly open and honest parents and had benefitted from the freedom to be able to discuss anything with them, This led to some conversations that my parents probably didn’t enjoy much (sorry, Mom and Dad!) but I grew up unafraid of my body and free of misguided hang-ups. I decided, when I started this parenting journey, that I was going to be the type of parent that answers questions frankly and openly and without reservation. Yes sirree, I was evolved.

Masturbation conversation

So, when the day came that I discovered my three year old daughter with her hands down her pants, I took a deep breath, plastered a non-freaked out smile on my face and calmly told her that touching herself was a lovely and normal thing to do but that it was something she should do alone in her bedroom. “Okay”, she happily replied and skipped off to her room. Patting myself on the back for being so calm under duress (because the inner voice was shrieking “omigodomigodomigod!”), I  went about making dinner and praying that that was that.

The Masturbatory Gods had a good laugh at that one. As if. The next day, I unsuspectingly walked into the living room with a basket of laundry and BAM, there she was, hands in pants. Deep breath. Calm, cheery (slightly squeaky) voice. “Darling, remember how we talked yesterday about how if you want to touch your vagina, you need to do it alone in your bedroom?” Sweet, innocent eyes looked back at me. “Yes, mama, okay.”, and off she went.

Phew. Twice wasn’t so bad. Now, she got it. Excellent.

Until the next day. Three times. And the day after that.

By this time, I was getting so good at this conversation that I didn’t even bat an eyelid anymore. I knew this was a totally normal phase and I was proud that I was handling it with such grace and maturity. Mary Poppins herself couldn’t have handled it better. The new mantra in our home, repeated in sing-song voices multiple times per week, was “If you want to touch your vagina, you have to do it all alone in your bedroom.”

One morning, we were all eating breakfast before day care when down the pants went her little hands.

As I poured my cereal into a bowl, I said, “Honey, you can’t touch your vagina at the dinner table.” 

Chewing her Weetbix, she replied,“But why, Mama?”

Good question. Now how to put it into a social context that a toddler could understand?

I answered, “Okay, Sweetie, let me ask you this: have you ever seen ME touch MY vagina at the breakfast table?” 

(Brilliant, Michelle! If she understands this, then she’ll get why it’s an inappropriate social behaviour!)

Innocent eyes stared back, as she thought, then she grinned as the penny dropped,“No, I never seed you do that, Mama!”

I grinned triumphantly,“You see, touching vaginas is not something we do at the breakfast table.”

She smiled back and replied, “If we want to touch, then we have to go to our bedrooms!” 

Phew. FINALLY. She got it.

Off we went to day care. My little girl skipped in happily and put her bag in her locker.

Then she ran to her teacher and excitedly declared…

Wait for it…

You’re going to love this…

“Natalie! Guess what! My Mummy touches her vagina all alone in her bedroom!”

My mouth opened and closed. I blinked. I died a hundred deaths. I blinked and, fish-like, opened and closed my mouth again. I blushed furiously as garbled words of explanation fell out of my mouth in a tangled heap on the floor. I tried to explain that I REALLY wasn’t touching my vagina in my bedroom and my little princess hadn’t seen anything and ohmigosh am I really saying this out loud at daycare? I died again.

No amount of explaining was going to make this sound better.

The teacher laughed as she attempted to help me dislodge my foot from my mouth and she very sweetly reassured me that I wasn’t the first parent who had had this conversation with her, nor would I be the last.

When I left the daycare that day, I left knowing two things: 1) I had provided some outstanding staff room conversation and 2) This motherhood gig had finally stripped the very last bit of dignity I had left.

Motherhood: leave your dignity at the door

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Myth of the perfect mother.

This morning, the most beautiful picture found its way on to my Facebook newsfeed. It made me smile. It grounded me. It made me proud to be privileged enough to be called “Mum”. Here it is:
From the 4th Trimester Project - "Tara Maki is my hero of the day. She is ex-military and has overcome a serious eating disorder to grow and nourish and set such a glowing example of beauty for her girls Joselyn (3) and Addie (9 months) — at Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia."

Picture courtesy of The 4th Trimester Bodies Project (http://4thtrimesterbodies.com) – “Tara Maki is my hero of the day. She is ex-military and has overcome a serious eating disorder to grow and nourish and set such a glowing example of beauty for her girls Joselyn (3) and Addie (9 months) — at Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia.”

I was all loved up and happy until I read the horrific caption that went with it: “This picture and a whole swath of others like it have been removed by Facebook and other social media sites for being vulgar.”

VULGAR.

My blood is boiling over this. It is so very wrong on multiple levels.

This picture is not pornography.

Know what is pornographic? The countless images that Facebook thrusts on to my newsfeed as ‘suggested’ stories – images of emaciated teenage bodies accompanied by information about the diet pills I should be taking/milkshakes I should be drinking to look like them. These images are vulgar in their message that, somehow, I – a 38 year old mother of three – should aim to look like them. Know what else is vulgar? Read the rest of this entry

Enough Mylie!

Visit Bonbon Break today for my thoughts on this Mylie Cyrus debacle.

Visit Bonbon Break today for my thoughts on this Mylie Cyrus debacle.

If you were an alien visiting the Earth and found yourself in a Western country this past week, you’d have learnt the following things about the People Of Earth:

ONE: Miley Cyrus is Very Important and has magic powers. With a few shakes of her rear (accompanied by an unnaturally long extension of her tongue), this young earthling can make poverty, murder and impending war  d i s a p p e a r. Yep – anyone who witnessed Twerkgate was privy to the instantaneous vanishing of the murdered Syrian children, threats of WWIII and… well… anything of actual importance from world news. Poof!

TWO: Twerking is horrible and slutty. HOWEVER, women should be allowed to twerk to their hearts’ content because we own our bodies, so quit judging and back-off. ALTHOUGH, even though we shouldn’t Judge Miley (poor, poor, poor Miley, naive and expressing her rights) she really did behave like the sluttiest slutty slut from Sluttsville and Read the rest of this entry

Oh, my nuts!

Rude words and why Baby G thinks we can’t say them at school.

Last week, my big kids each had a friend over to play. Baby G was feeling left out because the big girls wanted alone time sans little sister, so I suggested she go play with the boys, who are good-natured and would probably include her. She happily skipped off to Little Man’s room and I got busy cooking dinner, enjoying this peaceful moment to myself and patting myself on the back for engineering it. After a while, I realised she hadn’t come back so I went to check up on her and the boys. I peeped around the doorway to Little Man’s bedroom and saw him and his little mate jumping of the bed and shouting rude words at the top of their lungs (as 8 year old boys do) followed by raucous laughter. Baby G, of course, was howling with laughter and joining in. Of course. Read the rest of this entry

Kid-versations

Kidversations Living with my kids is like house-sharing with a comedy trio. The conversations in my house make me routinely shoot coffee out of my nose. I’m pretty sure their comic dialogue is some kind of evolutionary survival instinct thing…it certainly saves our sanity on those “Mama is losing her mind” days. (Let’s be honest – that’s most days because getting my kids to listen and follow instructions is a parenting skill I am yet to master.) Just last week, this conversation took place while I was driving the girls to dancing. It led to me nearly crashing into a tree:
Baby G: Muuuum, do i come from China? Me: No, you’re Australian, Sweetie. Baby G: But Miss M says I come from China! Miss M: I did not say she comes from China… I said she came out of your VAGINA! Read the rest of this entry

Where did I come from? (How not to answer the question.)

Little Man: Where did I come from, Mummy? Gulp. This conversation had been threatening to ambush me for weeks. I could feel it. This was my moment and I had only one chance not to stuff it up. I remembered the advice I’d been given by a much wiser mum-friend to give just enough enformation, but not too much. Age appropriate, Michelle, age appropriate. I sat him down with me, put my arm around his shoulders and began to explain how Mummy and Daddy had decided that after we got married, were decided that even though we were so happy (carefree, spontaneous, able to sleep-in and did I mention spontaneous?) we really wanted a family. I went on to explain that, if two people reeeeallly love each other, they can use that love to make a baby. I (confidently, forthrightly and not-at-all-struggling-for-words like a bumbling idiot, not at all…) described how Daddy has special teeny tiny seeds called Sperm and Mummy has an Egg and that when we cuddled really tight, with love in our hearts, he gave me some seeds to join with my egg, and that would grow into a baby. Little Man: Where does Daddy keep his seeds? Me: (Dear Lord, what is this obsession with details?) Oh, um…well, you know that sac you both have under your penises? That’s where the seeds are kept. Solemn nod. huge eyes. Little Man: But why doesn’t he have a picture of us kids on that sac? (My turn to look bewildered.) Read the rest of this entry
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